It was a marketing campaign, but more of a community service.
Freedom Tire Inc. had self promotion in mind when the Des Moines-based dealership teamed up with the Metro Waste Authority (MWA) and the Iowa Tire Initiative (ITI). What it wound up doing was promoting the somewhat tarnished image of the tire industry-along with the proper care and disposal of tires.
``With all the bad publicity tire companies have gotten of late, people are a little more aware of the safety issues of the tire,'' said Jeff Chapman, general manager of eight of Freedom Tire's nine Des Moines stores. The company does retail and commercial and operates a wholesale business.
The campaign's title-``Get Pumped Up for the Holiday Weekend with a Free Tire Safety Inspection Program''-pretty much spelled out the idea behind it. Consumers were urged to bring their cars to a Freedom Tire location prior to Memorial Day weekend to have tires inspected for proper inflation levels, tread condition, balance and alignment.
The Iowa Tire Initiative is the product of more than 20 Iowa counties banding together to promote education on proper tire maintenance and disposal. More than 3 million tires are discarded in the state annually. Since 2000, the initiative has run various campaigns detailing the importance of tire safety, maintenance etc.
The Metro Waste Authority, with the initiative in mind, was looking for a company to cross-promote the ideas. Enter Freedom Tire, whose advertisements carried the MWA's logo and vice-versa.
``What they actually did is, if we were willing to put their logo on all of our direct mail and (other) ads, they were willing to put our logo on theirs,'' Mr. Chapman said. ``They wanted a company that was reputable for proper disposal of tires.''
It was more than that. They also wanted a company that carried itself well in the community. Or, as Mr. Chapman put it, was well kept and projected the program's image.
The MVA and ITI wanted a dealer, he added, with ``a clean store with a mowed lawn.''
The campaign created community awareness about proper tire care and disposal, while drumming up some business for Freedom Tire's stores.
The program included an offer for a preventive maintenance check on customers' vehicles. Part of the service included bringing vehicles into a service bay, putting them up on a rack and inspecting them.
``Just kind of give them the once-over,'' Mr. Chapman said. As that was concluded, the patrons were given brochures detailing proper tire care.
After that it was up to individuals as to whether or not they would take steps to repair their vehicles.
``People were really receptive to it,'' Mr. Chapman continued. ``They didn't knock our doors down, but people who did come would come back with their other cars.''
Strictly a Goodyear dealer-Freedom Tire began selling Dunlop, Kelly and Republic brand tires in July-the company has 11 Gemini stores in all. Russ Crowner owns two outlets in Ames, Iowa, and is co-owner of eight Des Moines locations. His partner is sole owner of the ninth Des Moines location.
The company, which also features farm tires among its wares, employs about 125.
Mr. Chapman said that while the effect of the campaign was ``pretty minor'' on the company's bottom line, the idea behind it was good and he said Freedom Tire would more than likely participate again in the future.